After a night of election celebrating, former Fullerton City Manager, Joe Felz, drove home drunk as the proverbial skunk, ran off the road and over a tree, then tried to drive off before being apprehended by his own cops.
The ensuing cover up cost a cop his job, gave the FPD yet another black eye, and eventually entangled the City in a losing a retaliatory lawsuit against FFFF and bloggers Joshua Ferguson, David Curlee.
Partial videos have finally been released, although the dash cam videos have not. Of course this is not a surprising omission given that the cop in charge at the scene -Sergeant Corbett – did his level best to obscure images the still-inebriated Felz; the dash cams would undoubtedly show the the not-too flattering images of Felz hit-and-run and his comical attempt to escape the long arm of the law.
Last week the Voice of OC published an opinion piece by a gentleman named Ed Bargas. Mr. Bargas is head of the civilian employee union in Fullerton, and if he wrote this drivel, then I’m the Pope.
You can read about how Bargas believes Fullerton is at a crossroads – meaning that the City leaders must choose between the welfare of his union members and the citizenry at large. Of course he doesn’t put it like that. He complains that the City Council is embracing the conservatism of the ’80s in which government is viewed with suspicion, even hostility. To this all I can suggest to Mr. Bargas is to read the pages of this blog, and after reviewing the litany of incompetence, corruption and cover-ups, reconsider whether or not suspicion, even hostility is justified.
Bargas makes the mistake of starting of his long list of threatened city functions with public safety, forgetting to remind his readers that it is the very public safety pensions laid out by supine politicians like Ahmad Zahra and Jesus Silva & Co. that have brought financial crisis to Fullerton.
Of course the Big Problem is lack of revenue, and Mr. Bargas was no doubt a cheerleader for the ill-fated Measure S on last November’s ballot that went down in flames, falling victim to honesty and common sense. Maybe he thinks that somehow the new majority of responsible councilmembers can be persuaded to try that scam again. Well good luck with that.
My human Friends have learned that your former Mayor-for-hire, and the best bestie of my former mistress, Jennifer Fitzgerald, is jumping ship from the Fullerton boat of which she spent years drilling holes in the bottom. But before she skips town she has planned at least one last scam to separate the gullible bipeds from their dough. This borders on some sort of abuse, and believe you me, I know a lot about abuse!
Can you please repeat that? Hard to believe any of you humans would pay a hydrant pee to listen to Fitzgerald opine on any subject, but this topic is so funny that it’s even funny up here in doggie heaven.
What qualities make a good city manager? Well, let’s ask.
How about refusing to reform a criminal enterprise known as the FPD?
How about letting millions of gallons of expensive MWD water leak out of Laguna Lake with zero accountability?
How about years of unbalanced budgets leading to the brink of fiscal disaster?
How about serial neglect of the city fragile infrastructure?
How about getting drunk and running over a tree, and then trying to drive off?
How about covering up a Parks N’ Rec vehicle crash?
How about turning a blind eye to serial code violations?
How about continuing to foster the myth that downtown Fullerton is some sort of financial asset?
How about turning a blind eye to forgery of official city documents?
How about stonewalling on required release of public documents?
How about wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on crony “consultants”?
How about mismanaging construction projects as simple as wooden stairs and elevator additions?
How about enabling vanity projects like unused ceremonial bridges and dry duck ponds?
How about wasting a million dollars in state money on an idiotic and unpopular Specific Plan?
How about acceding to the demands of regional agencies for housing demands?
How about developing an entire Specific Plan behind everybody’s back – except the housing bureaucrats and do-gooders?
Arf! That’s only some of the stuff I can remember happening under the watch of Fitzgerald’s two city managers – the drunken stumblebum, Joe Felz, and the equally incompetent, likely sober, Ken Domer, neither of whom could run a dog kennel, as well I know.
For Jennifer Fitzgerald the only skill that mattered from a city manager was to accommodate her desires, desires that often as not ended up costing the citizens and taxpayers of Fullerton one way or another. She was a “master” all right. A master of manipulating a feeble system of political hacks and corruptible bureaucrats.
Hopefully some female human attending this gathering will be smart enough to ask some of the specifics of Fullerton’s city management disasters, but I doubt it.
Hmm. Former Fullerton Councilcreature for Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, may be getting out of Dodge. Word out and about is that Jennifer Fitzgerald wants to move. Out of Fullerton? I don’t know.
I’m sure not complaining about it, I’m hardly even wondering why.
During Jen’s 8-year career driving Fullerton to the precipice of insolvency and immanent infrastructure collapse, she made it pretty clear that she was in it for whatever she could get out of it for herself, her campaign supporters and her boss, lobbyist Curt Pringle. Her last, desperate flail at influence peddling occurred in last fall’s election when her puppet candidate, Andrew Cho, dredged from the obscure depths of anonymity, was defeated by Fred Jung,
Now there are only two candidates willing to be “influenced” Fitzgerald: Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra. And the latter may soon have his legal troubles advertised for his constituents to peruse.
So maybe Fitzy figures it’s time to abandon the smoking wreckage she masterminded courtesy of two utterly incompetent but willing co-conspirators – Joe Felz and Ken Domer.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if government bureaucracies do the things they do because of incompetence, venality, or favoritism. In the never-ending story of Fullerton’s noise regulation all three seem to be uniquely intertwined.
What is inescapable is that the City of Fullerton has striven mightily to separate the issue of nuisance noise emanating from downtown outdoor areas from both enforcement and illegality.
In 2011 the ridiculous Transportation Center Specific Plan finally made it legal to propagate amplified outdoor music, thus making Jeremey Popoff’s Slidebar appear honest, although he still didn’t have a legal Conditional Use Permit. But the new regulations for noise had no more effect than Popoff’s missing CUP because the City – cops and code enforcement – refused to enforce the regulations.
What to do? Hmm. What about throwing the issue into a miasma of bureaucratic paper shuffling so that nobody would notice what you were doing, and downtown scofflaws could actually be absolved, de jure as well as de facto?
In August, 2014 the City tried this pitch with the idea that the Noise ordinance would be updated along with great swaths of the existing land use law to make thing, you know, easier to figure out. But downtown noise played a prominent part in the discussion, if not really in the staff report. The council approved noise studies as a mechanism, a cynic might say, to avoid cracking down on Popoff, Jack Franklin’s Roscoe’s, and their ilk, because that is exactly what happened.
2015 rolled around and the Community Development “professionals,” led by newly minted Director Karen Haluza, were again yakking it up about revising the Code. Well, these things take time, you know, and in the late summer of 2016 the City Council finally got around to passing Ordinance 3232, a revised Code, still, with intent of instilling commonsense and clarity. The definition of amplified music was scratched out pending future action.
But whatever the motivation, the ever-shifting sands of sound gave the bureaucrats, aided and abetted by the perpetual dishonesty of City Attorney Dick Jones, the pretext they needed to bat away complaints about the illegal noise – because the issues was under study and consideration!
The vicious circle took yet another revolution in June of 2018 when the Council was persuaded by yet another new planning director, Ted White, to pass a Resolution of Intent to once again revise the land use codes in the interests of commonsense and clarity. Of course the Noise Ordinance and downtown noise was actually a key driver in this conversation, too. Mr. White took it upon himself to introduce a new downtown noise map where any outdoor sound would be permitted; but, the standards – 70 decibels outside and 65 decibels inside – were not to be applied to the source, but to the sensitive receptor, and the burden of proof was clearly laid at the feet of the victim, not the perpetrator of the nuisance. The bureaucracy seemed oblivious to the Armageddon of Noise they were trying to create or the sensibilities of residents adjacent to the riot zone.
The Planning Commission was finally scheduled to review the latest iteration of musical chairs in November, 2018; but the discussion was mysteriously continued for three months until February, 2019 by which time two opponents of amplified music, Nick Dunlap and Ryan Cantor had been removed from the Commission. A coincidence? Who knows? Stay tuned…
Okay. What have we learned so far about Fullerton’s long and corrupt attempt to avoid addressing the problem of amplified outdoor music?
First we have learned that Fullerton’s “experts” in the Planning and Code Enforcement divisions have been serially uninterested in enforcing their own laws in an effort to appease and placate scofflaw bars in the financial sinkhole known as downtown Fullerton.
Second we have learned that you can’t make government bureaucrats do their jobs if they don’t want to do them.
Way back in 2009 City Hall knew it had a problem on its hands as the metastasizing and illegal clubs began sharing their good times with everybody else. A “consultant” called Bon Terra was engaged to to a noise study and the City Council, at the time, voted to maintain the existing code that prohibited outdoor music.
But saying something and doing something about it reflects a mammoth void in Fullerton, and the bureaucrats in City Hall don’t give up on an issue until one way or another, they get what they want.
And in 2012 they got a friend, Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was more than happy to run interference for people who had no qualms about violating the noise and land-use law.
And so, over the next seven years, the Noise Nuisance continued, most notably at The Slidebar, a club that was illegally operating without a CUP. And even as the nuisance continued, the City embarked on a campaign to eliminate any restrictions at all. Complaints were invariably batted away by Planning Directors Karen Haluza, Ted White, and Matt Foulkes who, along with our egregious City Attorney, Dick Jones kept citing studies and new plans, and whatever else they could use as a pretext for doing nothing.
Finally by 2019, it became apparent that the goal was to permit an acoustic free-for-all in downtown Fullerton.
The Joe Felz Cover-up is nearly complete. Yesterday the officer, Jeff Corbett, who falsified his report, was slapped on the wrist for his felonious actions.
While we don’t know what happened in his Jury Trial, the bench trial ended yesterday with the judge giving him less time for lying in his official capacity as a police officer than you can get for contempt of court.
His attorney said this case, where an officer lied on a report, was more of a “political football than a felony”. Let that sink in. Lying under the color of authority isn’t that big of a deal in this system.
His attorney also claimed that Corbett was being prosecuted for his “opinion” that Joe Felz wasn’t intoxicated. What this defense attorney and judge ignored is that it took Corbett over an hour to conduct his “limited investigation” because, according to Corbett himself, the “back and forth phone calls” took too long. Those are the phone calls between Corbett, Danny Hughes, Jennifer Fitzgerald and lord knows who else.
So the powers that be were pulling strings for Felz to not get treated like any other DUI in Fullerton (hi MADD!) and Corbett went along with it by stating that an obviously intoxicated Felz (who plead guilty to that fact) didn’t seem intoxicated. The other officers reported that Felz “smelled of alcohol” but something something Corbett is hero and deserve.
The judge admitted she had no idea there was an independent investigation by RCS and she clearly didn’t know the facts of the case or she wouldn’t call this just a “sloppy investigation”.
The judge claimed there are a lot of politics involved and then claimed she was going to avoid the politics to “follow the law” but you cannot untangle the two in this case. Let us not forget that the Mayor and Chief of Police directed the actions of a police officer in relation to the drinking and driving by the City Manager. That the officer was on the up-and-up when he claimed to not think the City Manager was drunk under the law (after not doing a breathalyzer and waiting over an hour to conduct any sobriety tests) is laughable at best.
It only took 51 months, 14 days (or 1,567 days) for the illusion of justice to be handed down in the Joe Felz Sappy McTree Caper.
All in all he got 80 hours of community service, is required to pay restitution (that may not even exist), is required to pay $500 to the “victim witness” and Corbett can’t work in law enforcement anymore. Once this “diversion” is completed in a year the record will be sealed.
All that remains is for the body worn camera footage to be “lost” by FPD now that there is no reason to legally withhold it from the public.
Here it is after 4 years of obfuscation by City Hall and Fullerton PD. Here is the 9-1-1 call from the night former City Manager Joe Felz ran over a tree and tried to flee the scene. Pay special attention to the squealing of his vehicle as it limps down Highland away from poor Sappy McTree.
You’ll recall that he was given a ride home by Fullerton PD and given a pass on his DUI thanks to the position of power he enjoyed. This treatment ultimately, thanks to this blog, led to the firing and charging of the responsible Fullerton PD Sargent.
Give it a listen.
Now we await the body camera footage and other records from the incident.